Halfway, and looking back, it’s been a challenging week. Staying strong despite the hurdles, just staying OK and not crying is quite tough sometimes. Missing the family, being away has been very difficult.
Tonight the wifi’s down and if you want to call someone (even just to hear their voice), you can’t do it. It makes you realise: you’re a long way from home.
The hardest thing has been Abbie having to go into hospital with a deep vein thrombosis. When she found a bruise on her leg, Dr Nick was absolutely amazing. We thought it was a just a bruise but he took one look and immediately organised getting her to hospital.
It was scary. We packed everything for her that we could in the rush. People were crying. It was quite a lot to take in. Callum went with her that night. We were so worried about her, but we were allowed to visit her the next day. And Emily stayed that night too.
She’s been incredibly strong and we’re all so proud of her. She’s had morphine and milkshakes and ice cream.
It’s been so difficult to see her upset, heart-breaking really. But the Gambian hospital is wonderful and very efficient. The doctors are the nicest people. All our focus has been on her, so coming back to everything going on in Gunjur has been difficult.
Other challenges? The heat – you expect it, of course, but nothing prepares you for it. Because of the heat everyone’s a bit tired, a bit ill. It’s very hard not to feel low sometimes.
The highlights of the week? My Gambian partner is incredible. She’s just so lovely and I adore her. Today I was a bit upset and she gave me space without me having to ask which was just what I needed.
Being here has made me appreciate certain things back home. Little things, like curling my hair. I’m having two weeks here without any of the things I’m used to. You don’t need that – it’s nice to have it, but you don’t need it.
I loved Tobaski (which is a central Muslim festival) and experiencing the communal atmosphere. Watching maybe three to four thousand people praying together.
And going to play football, and swimming in the sea. I loved that so much. When I lived in Poole, I used to walk my dog along the beach, sit on the rocks, the whole beach thing. So, being at the beach here made me feel calm. Actually, it was the first time I’ve felt calm since we’ve been here.
I played catch in the sea with the Gambian partners. It was so sweet.
Bugs. They’re so annoying. I’ve been bitten to pieces. I really hate the mosquitoes and flies. When I go home and someone says there’s such a lot of flies, I’ll be able to say, you think this is a lot? You should see the flies in The Gambia.
Abbie going into hospital has been terrible, but I’ve really learned a lot from it. It’s made me recognise the value of the support system around us. I mean our friends all looking out for one another and helping, and TTV, the doctors, and the Gambians.
Katie Moxham, 17
Kingsbury Green Academy
Emily Jenkins, 17
Kingsbury Green Academy